The USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) works with private landowners to advance conservation on their lands. This voluntary program currently comprises over 20 million acres making it an extremely important component of conservation in America. Management actions taken on enrolled lands include augmenting native vegetation for pollinators, providing habitat for grassland plants and animals, increasing biodiversity, reducing soil erosion, and improving water quality.
CBI is working with USDA to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the program as it strives to expand enrollment in the coming years. Working in a number of pilot states (Mississippi, Kansas, Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, and the Dakotas), CBI will be focused on the following tasks.
- Improve mapping and monitoring of forests and grassland as it relates to the CRP using the latest remote sensing technology and processing resources.
- In grassland ecosystems, develop planning and monitoring approaches to help inform and manage for woody vegetation encroachment.
- Conduct spatial analyses to help the program prioritize areas for more targeted enrollment.
- Develop an easy-to-use online application to support the enrollment application process.
- Create an online service to assist landowners in acquiring seed/seedling mixes most appropriate for their circumstances.
- Create an online service that helps manage emergency haying/grazing requests.
- Develop and implement technology and protocols (e.g., phone apps) that will involve landowners more in the implementation of their agreements, which will provide important monitoring to better evaluate program conservation achievements.